Jump Into STEM infographic with 2022 challenges: It's Electric, Curb Your Carbon, Sustainable and Resilient.

JUMP Into STEM competition begins Aug. 15, 2022

How will buildings of the future be constructed? How will they be more energy efficient, further reduce carbon emissions, and integrate more seamlessly with the power grid?

The next generation of buildings will be influenced by the next generation of building scientists. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have joined together to cultivate rising building science professionals.

The DOE’s online building competition, JUMP into STEM, is celebrating its fifth year. Launching Aug. 15, 2022, challenges will be open to teams of two to four students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. The program encourages diverse students studying a variety of fields to solve critical challenges in the field of building science.

The student competition is judged in two rounds: first, challenge-level winners are selected from each of the three challenges that are run during fall semesters, then eligible challenge-level winners are invited to compete against each other at the final event. All challenge-level winners receive the opportunity for one-on-one mentorship from a building science professional and eligible final competition winners are offered paid 10-week summer internships at one of the three sponsoring national laboratories, ORNL, NREL, or PNNL.

“Every presentation took their challenge in such a different way. It is really cool to see how much hard work was put in,” said Haley Matthews, an undergraduate student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who participated last year. “It was great to have a platform to speak about something that I'm passionate about. The networking sessions were a great way for me to find out what it's really like to work in these areas.”

Since its inception, the program has been managed by ORNL and NREL. PNNL joined the team as a host institution for interns in 2021. To date, 23 students have interned at ORNL, NREL, and PNNL.

This year, the competition’s challenge topics are:

  • It’s Electric
  • Curb Your Carbon
  • Sustainable and Resilient

To reach students, JUMP into STEM works closely with professors at colleges and universities across the United States. Professors offer the competition to their students as part of their curricula. Independent student teams can also apply, and no professor is required to compete.

“It was a great experience. I got to know about various topics and ideas that are really fascinating. And also, I got to know about the labs and their work and contribution to the real world,” said Alka Khadka, a student at Oklahoma State University who was a 2021 winner and a 2022 intern at ORNL.

The building science field is diverse and draws people from a wide variety of backgrounds, interests, knowledge and experience, and it is important for the program to reflect the richness that diversity provides. Hence, the Professor Team this year consists of returning and new members from a variety of fields of study — traditional building science fields such as architecture and engineering, but also public policy, computer science, economics, and more.

Many members of the JUMP into STEM Professor Team are also from minority-serving institutions and historically black colleges and universities, contributing to the program’s diversity. Interested professors are invited to give feedback during the development of challenges for the coming program year to ensure successful incorporation into their classes; webinars with professors are under way to support the integration of challenges into coursework. With inherently interdisciplinary challenges, professors can bring their wide-ranging experience to bear on creating the challenges that in the end will offer holistic solutions.

“I was really impressed with how the next generation of upcoming STEM professionals is starting to think about how to approach the pressing problems we face in building science today,” said Odessa Gomez, Ph.D., who helped judge the 2021 competition. “The diversity in thought, background, and experiences demonstrated by these student teams was reflected in the quality of projects entered in this year’s competition. Really nice job!”

Student teams with diversity of thought from different majors and experiences develop novel solutions while honing critical collaborative skills for their future careers. To facilitate student awareness of these impacts, a diversity statement is a requirement to compete.

Challenges close on Nov. 11, 2022. The final competition will be held at NREL Jan. 26–27, 2023.

To learn more and to compete, visit: www.jumpintostem.org.